Rhiannon Giles Durham’s 11-year-old daughter has a common fear of bees and spiders: cautious because of the sting-and-bite potential but recognizing that if the critters are treated with respect, they likely pose little danger. But the North Carolina mom’s six-year-old son is terrified of all bugs (except for butterflies): Just the sight of benign critters like gnats or flies sends him running.
Fear of bugs is common for children. But according to psychologist Nina Kaiser, helping kids overcome any common childhood fear is a step toward teaching them to deal with any worry as they grow older. “Childhood is a perfect time for teaching skills around managing worry or fear that will help kids be better prepared to cope with triggers,” she says.
And besides: Bugs are everywhere! In fact, a 2016 study from North Carolina State University found that the average American home shares space with up to a hundred species of bugs. “We are surrounded by them,” says entomologist Eleanor Spicer Rice, author of Ants: Workers of the World. “If you can find out what they’re doing there and learn more about them, your world will become a more vibrant, exciting place.”